Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or living in China, you would have stumbled upon Google’s latest venture: the Google+ project.

It’s funny how many forgive and forget when it comes to Google. One would expect the abysmal failure of Google Wave 2 years ago, stifling the public’s tolerance of giving any Google grown ‘social’ product another go. It seems though the leading search engine provider has succeeded in breaking its novice status with the creation and execution of Google+, now with 25m users and counting. Google’s best kept secret? Not anymore.

Having worked with online products for so long, I appreciate how difficult it is to nail an online platform that hails simplicity and sophistication at the same time. Add to this the already cluttered online community space that is dominated by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn amongst others, it’s quite exciting to see Google+ take the lead in what I would label as social media’s next generation of platforms. Why I draw this conclusion boils down to a couple of factors:

Google+ gives ultimate control to the individual. Unlike Twitter and Facebook where the rights of sharing is dependent on the message recipient’s willingness to connect with the sharer, Google+ allows the end user to freely add Google+’ians into user groups and share messages based on their personalised circles of individuals. It’s asymmetrical in nature, and it’s just what social junkies are looking for.

Google+ evolves the equation of a sticky platform. Think of a restaurant that you regularly eat at. What makes you go back there? It’s a combination of things: the food, the service, the atmosphere, the people you dine with. I used to think that the community for social networks was the primary determinant of a user’s loyalty (the key reason that I gave Facebook another go despite being dubious about its utility in my life). It seems now that being a ‘regular’ in the longhaul also requires a continued investment in keeping features (equivalent to the restaurant’s atmosphere and menu) on the platform attractive. And what’s cool about Google+ is that you don’t need an online tutorial or help tips: the environment is predictable to the end user, the Google+ diet is easy to digest!

Since its launch we’ve seen tweaks in the Circles module and YouTube sharing, driven primarily by screening usage (which is not surprising with Google’s advanced web analytics capabilities) and listening to user’s feedback. Crowdsourcing is a cool way of learning more about users and ensuring users remain engaged on the network.

This approach breathes the importance of iterative development, the importance of being agile with managing a living and breathing platform as more information about your users and their behaviours surface.  Twitter started off with attractive features (the concept of ‘followers’ and @ mentions and RT or quotes) but responded too late to third party applications who offered more convenience in features such as shortened links and in line influence scores from Klout.

It’s great to be reminded that the social media space will never stop evolving and I’m pleased to see Google+ taking a decent leap in the right direction.

What I look forward to? I see a richer user experience across other Google web properties as a result of first hand insights from Google+ users (for example, improved relevancy on Google Search); more functionality on its mobile app, particularly for Android powered mobiles; further integration of video chat properties within its cool Hangout feature and a Google+ API.

Advertisements

Below is a detailed transcript of each Media 2010 speaker:

CEO of Fairfax Digital, Jack Matthews opened the conference with the following remarks:

  • Content is no longer scarce; the ability to diffuse and distribute is now outside the control of the media organization
  • Whilst journalism as a profession has not changed, business models to support the cause has, trending towards being transactions based
  • New media should be considered an opportunity rather than a risk)

CEO of Associated NorthCliffe Digital, Richard Titus (also ex New Media head at BBC UK) spoke about deriving value from service utility in a way that delights end users:

  • The internet is now a huge collaborative copying machine, oversupplied with content. As more permutations of devices used to consume the content increases (which in turn blurs lines between different media types), the challenge is to produce/curate content that is fresh, targeted and ‘social’
  • The ability to connect, mash and mix up data to create bespoke and relevant experiences across these different platforms is key to success
  • His recommendation: use customer knowledge across networks to tailor your product/service and justify charging for it (then make it a frictionless process). This involves sharing information across multiple platforms/networks and building sites with enough scale to respond as required.

CTO of New York Times, Marc Frons showcased the many innovative and interactive platforms on the web in an effort to justify company’s decision to charge for content:

  • As media moves from print to digital, New York Times is transforming from a news to a technology company, a typical day in the newsroom involves close collaboration between Journalists and developers. It recently invested in an iPad app in support of portability, convenience and readability of digital print.
  • The key metric for advertising and future payment models is reader engagement. NYT has a multitude of apps to support the cause. Examples include: TimesPeople provides features to share content across social networks, TimesWire streams breaking news and opinion from the NYT site and Times Skimmer emulates the feeling of a physical newspaper online. There’s even a Times Developer network (11.5k users, 9.8k API keys) that exposes NYT’s structured data to other sites.
  • Advertising and subscription revenue is an essential investment to sustain journalism and to simply survive. NY Times intends to start charging from early 2011 using a bundled approach: free access until users reach a monthly article limit, then charge a single price for web and mobile access.

Chief Scientist at Reuters, Nic Fulton took us through the evolution of printing press from the Gutenburg days to the present with mentions on potential use of new technologies such as Augmented Reality:

  • The remit of Reuters Labs is to innovate products by roadtesting technology that may potentially improve user experience, brand positioning and enable new business models
  • Fulton sees the available opportunities for the news organization as endless: taking the Augmented Reality concept, remote controlled media coverage without necessarily being physically present at the place in question (e.g. Iraq since it’s dangerous!)

Adrian Holovaty from MSNBC.com enlightened the crowd with 3 big media concepts that he unraveled whilst transforming a rich database from Chicago Police to an easy to use, visually attractive mashup of information about ‘your neighbourhood’ – Everyblock.com

  • Idea 1: Reorganise free, publicly available information to your end user. Once data is captured across different sources (particularly via the government), the creativity lies with browsing and presenting this data in a way that explores the serendipity of content discovery and makes the overall experience compelling.
  • Idea 2: ‘Living’ information as infinitely relevant, available and evolving. ‘Reading the newspaper is like starting to watch TV show mid season’. Notes from the UN Climate Change conference demonstrates how assumed knowledge erodes the value of the end product. The Wikipedia version is a lot more digestible, using an encyclopedia description + article update approach
  • Idea 3: Taming streams. With the heightened web activity and ease of contributing opinion (i.e. consumers are now also producers), the challenge comes with identifying the nugget amongst the noise. Commodity news is ubiquitous yet difficult to monetize. Participatory mashups are becoming the medium of choice for internet user and advertisers

I love a bit of controversy, and that was what Frederic Filloux brought to the morning. As Editor of Schibsted in Paris, Frederic sees the need for a new advertising model to sustain quality journalism

  • Whilst global time spent on social networks has gone up 82% YoY to Dec 09, time spent on news sites have declined from 42 mins to 30 mins (Nov 06 vs Nov 09).
  • The challenge posed to the audience is protecting revenue levels whilst readership value declines: a web reader is worth 16 to 20 times less than the print reader. For example, a Techcrunch reader is valued at USD$0.85, compared to New York Times at $8.
  • Creativity is required to ensure reader engagement – content is the new advertisement

A different tact was taken by Oliver Reichenstein, CEO of iNformation Architects in Japan, taking the floor to talk about his ambitious streak with challenging the norm behind best practice web design. His ultimate goal? To help people find and enjoy the world’s premium content, when, where and how they want it.  He sees content as still king but what makes a web site stand out is with simplicity (one click mentality) and beauty, he ‘obsesses over every pixel from metadata to picture quality.’

Following Riy Minty’s visit to Sydney to Media140, Al Jazeera’s Head of New Media, Moeed Ahmad reminded us of the great work that the company has been doing with implementing a community based media distribution model, most prominent during Gaza.  The company’s ideal focuses on freedom of speech specifically for the Arab world.

  • Taking on a ‘distributed distribution’ approach, Al Jazeera has a Creative Commons portal that allows citizens to submit crisis updates on location.
  • This is a good example of a crowdsourcing model that disseminated valuable content in real time and relying on a ‘virtuous circle’ community to endorse content to other people

Suzanne Stefanac from American Film Institute, Digital Content lab and the associated innovations is only successful with vision (stepping outside of your comfort zone) collaboration/engagement, and raw guts.

With 22.5% of 97m U.S citizens choosing to timeshift the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and 3-7 hours of video watched on the Mobile (Dec 2009), the challenge is being able to:

  1. Accommodate for all the platforms of consumption
  2. Attract attention and enable easy content discovery

Ming Chan from The1stMovement discussed the changing role of Advertising agencies in today’s new media landscape and seeing the co-creator nature of consumers as the driving force behind this change:

  • As co-creators of product, consumers are actively involved in defining product and driving company’s priorities. The diversity of products are a good representation of the complexities of our demands. E.g. iPod’s range of products
  • Chan referred to Pepsi who took extreme measures to reduce advertising spend from $142m (2006) to $60m (2008), followed by a radical move with dropping Super Bowl ($30m) from its portfolio and instead investing in a $20m social-centric campaign for 2010.
  • This power shift to the consumer is also consistently matched with a heavier focus on Internet based ad spending to $60,Chicken before the egg.
  • Case study: Pepsi $142m on advertising (2006). Reduced to $60m in 2008 (30% of total ad spending). BBDO out in 2009, TBWA/Chiat out in 2009. In 2010, Pepsi moved to a social campaign approach spending only $20m for the whole year

2009 has seen a cultural and technological shift for most individuals and companies, and I for one have experienced a genuine desire to connect with other like minded people online. Time poor has slowly become a thing of the past as the ease of talking to others has taken on an entirely new dimension.

Go on any news site or influential blog and you’ll find some good reflections on 2009.

The Age talks about the Year in Technology , another claims 2009 as the year of Social Networks, ZDNet captures the top 5 in a video wrap.

Some highlights for me were (extracted from my trusty Twitter stream):

1. The continued proliferation of smart phones, open developer’s market for the iPhone and the Google Android phone.

2. The launch of Bing. Whilst it hasn’t affected Google’s search engine market share, Google’s complacency has somewhat been challenged, a good example is Bing’s decision to launch real time search against Twitter, Wolfram Alpha and Facebook.

3. Related to Bing is Murdoch’s pay wall media message frenzy. This is sure to be crowned the biggest publicity blitz for 2009. Quality and uniqueness of content were the topics on debate until News threatened Google with content exclusivity for Bing – #FAIL for unfair play.

4. The emergence of geo-location apps in phones and social networks. Look out for more activity here. Cite: Foursquare and Gowalla

5. The growing demand for social ‘computing’ or CRM. I’ve certainly seen genuine interest for companies wishing to track and monitor relevant conversations, online. Another space to watch as apps like Chatter will only get better.

Embracing change is something we humans are getting much better at and I’m excited at the prospect that the web and its multi facets will become increasingly entrenched in our lifestyles, whether we like it or not!

I’m slightly turned off these days when seeing or hearing about social media. At times, there’s so much abuse with the term that I’m left sitting, deciphering which exact component of social media a particular person is referring to.

A Google Alert of mine that tracks social media and analytics are cluttered with ‘Social Media Revolution’ and ‘Secrets to Social Media success’ taglines that promise instant knowledge and success.

This leads me to conclude that Social Media is so broad of a term that it can be easily misinterpreted. Some of the traditional journos who stepped up to debate about Political Reporting at Media140 are fine examples of this. A particular Political Editor from ABC stated that ‘social media has a problem with identity and accuracy’, ensuing a direct comparison between journalism and social media as processes, rather than viewing social networks as a new platform (like any other traditional method) and a potential supplement to the journalistic process. More views on this very topic can be found here.

Which is why MC Hammer was a breath of fresh air. I was sceptical at first about having an ex-Rapper with a history of bankruptcy and baggy pants preach to us on the merits of social media. Nothing groundbreaking came out of his address, but what clearly resonated was his passion for the topic as he shared his testimony on how social media has helped him with real time analytics to manage his personal brand.

MC Hammer in Oz

Source: Brisbane Times

Rather than remind us about the 10 C’s, he challenged and encouraged everyone in the room to find own niche as entrepreneurs in our fields. And unlike some presenters, he demonstrated knowledge beyond Twitter when he put his money on Augmented Reality as the engine behind future apps.

Sure, he’s not a scholar at the topic. But who is? Every human being has the capability of engaging in online communities, setting up an account and carving out value of their own, be it passive or active. Deriving from this are 2 little thoughts for the day:

  • Be precise with terminology. Online communities (your immediate group of friends/connections online), social networks or interactive channels (eg. Twitter and Facebook) are some ways of achieving this
  • Be precise with making social media (or interactive networks) useful for you. It is by nature versatile. There is the customer service angle, extracting insights for product development and brand identity. More on this is in an earlier post of mine and another from Amber at Radian6.

Some cool references that talk to the topic at hand:

  • Jeremiah Owyang speaks about Social Colonisation for 2009: online experiences that are pervasively social. This is pretty much on the money. The future sees an elevated role of communities all round defining and driving the agenda for businesses
  • ReadWriteWeb, on getting down to the grassroots of figuring out how using communities can help with deriving business value and addressing concerns

Since there’s already alot of great microblogs, live/archived video streams and official bloggers on Day 1 of Media140 in Sydney today, I thought I’d add my views on the speakers from today via a simple perceptual map that rates speakers by quality (message) vs delivery (medium).

I have tweeted most of today’s learnings, however the key ones that spring to mind are:

1. Opinion might be vast and varied, but quality journalism is the costly exercise (@Julie_posetti)

2. Standing out with credibility through accurate reporting and verification of facts in the context of the reader is an opportunity that only grows as social media is adopted in mainstream (@riy)

3.  Whilst social media humanises journalism, the same ethical principles apply: honesty & transparency with freedom of speech (@theburgerman)

What was missing from today’s event was clearly (and thankfully) voiced by @stilgherrian: rather than an ‘us vs them’ mentality, journalists should be exploring the merits and opportunities of engaging in social media rather than taking the medium to war.

Media140 Sydney - Day 1 Speakers

Disclaimer: Views presented here is strictly @schmediachick's and noone elses

Working in Product Development at Media Monitors is very much focused on delivering compelling products and services to satisfy (and hopefully exceed) the needs of our wide and varied corporate customer base.

The fun bit about the job though revolves around looking into the future and looking for opportunities to innovate, excite and lead in our areas of expertise across capturing media intelligence, extracting and presenting invaluable insights for our clients. This is mostly done within the team, and at times collaboratively (Dell’sIdeastorm is the essence of how the latter works).

An obvious trend which continues to evolve is the concept of social media and how businesses choose to get involved in this arena. Having been on the Twitter scene for about a year now, there are still a bunch of people dedicated to the topic of social media, take @socialmedia29 and @socialmediamaze amongst other Twitter community members who converse about social media and other topics.

What continues to be a challenge for any serious player in the media arena is staying on top of these trends andquickly deciding on the appropriate course of action to address these trends. We’re about to experience this ourselves: launching a social media tracking solution within Mediaportal is a great start, but dare I say it will quickly lose its edge in a matter of months.

Another working example is Murdoch’s intention to  charge for content: since his announcement in April 2009 , the concept has since been embraced by some publishers or bragged excessively by others.

So, how can we as innovation centric,  strategy driven individuals continue to add value to our customers when the traditional crystal ball ain’t giving as much insight as it should be? Perhaps some simple yet hopefully practical mantras that most of it will be familiar with:

1. Own your niche, then build on it

Apple’s iPod is proof in the pudding. When the device was launched in 2001, there already existed a variety of MP3 players in the market, from Samsung and iRiver. What made the iPod stand out from the crowd was not its functionality (in fact, some may argue its features were inferior to the rest), but its simple, intuitive user interface (as we all now know and can’t live without!).  Being first to market didn’t matter for Apple, in fact, the wait-and-see approach helped them learn market preferences and craft their own niche, which in turn created more value in iPod’s ease of use proposition. Functionality is still key, but pinpointing and leading in your niche area will fund your future endeavours in functionality at a later stage.  Perhaps user experience and effective user interface design work is king after all!

2. Reinventing the Old

To stay relevant in any business that you’re in, it’s important to keep evolving your product or service offering. A good example here is RSS Feeds. Many have discussed this technology as reaching its hey day, being substituted by social networking sites and its supporting apps who do better on currency of content and accessibility. Mashable’s recent post on Fresh Sliced News proves the point that such aging technology can be revitalized to bring new appeal to the table:  the product allows users to personalize their ‘online newspaper’ using RSS Feeds of their choice.

3. Know your clients.

This is stating the obvious and organizations know that it is important, but the truth is, not everyone puts this mantra into practice. This means being customer centric across all aspects of the business, from reviewing technology to selecting your next billing system or even the choice of code to develop on. The key to this is staying relevant to your customer needs, challenges and to achieve this you need to be frequently engaging with them: listening, learning and living their business (very familiar aspects at The Insight Exchange’s Social Media Strategies event). Taking these steps guide your business decisions, prioritise the right activities and helps you formulate the appropriate actions to take with your customers in context with what matters to them.

4. Agility matters

Identifying a customer insight is one thing. Acting on this insight is another challenge in itself. Gone are the days of successive stage development, where your business requirements are locked for development, and any deviation from the original spec is treated as a change request and its impact must be assessed before progressing further.

Think prototyping, testing against users, refine design and functionality, repeat cycle. This is exactly the path that Apple took when creating the iPhone. Apple started off with a paper based prototype, conducted several rounds of usability testing before any code was cut to build the device.

Any similar stories to share, or thought of some more useful mantras? Add your comment below!

Since Murdoch’s ‘will charge for content’ mandate, there’s been ALOT of talk about finding a sustainable business model that may involve micropayments, us vs them mentalities, where traditional media blame internet based companies for their demise (eg. Google’s aggregating content) and so on.

What has become apparent to me of late is this: digital media, new media, social media age, which ever buzzword you choose to describe it, is here to stay. The solution is simple: embrace this exciting evolution of media as we know it.

Similar to how the typical corporation is, the way we interact, communicate and share is now all about collaboration, news is now pervasive and involves anyone who is closest to the topic or even at hand.

A great example of this is the recent Iran Election, where news on its progress broke much quicker than your traditional media. Savvy consumers of the Election would find more value watching self created coverage found via YouTube.

What this means is traditional media companies and journalists alike need to be at the forefront of using this content, which is freely available and very valuable once aggregated together, to distinguish themselves from other companies.  Syndicated content will only grow as creation, distribution and consumption of web based content grows.

And if the micropayments model is realised, they’ll find their readers much more willing to pay for their content!

(Some good case studies include Guardian in the UK (check out Meg Pickard on Twitter) and Reuters.com).